Wednesday, November 30, 2016

reading bad feminist

I know nothing about cars. When I take my car to the mechanic, they are speaking a foreign language. A mechanic asks what wrong with my car, and I stutter things like, "Well, there's a sound I try to drown out with my radio."... I don't want to be good at cars. Good feminists, I assume, are independent enough to address vehicular crises on their own; they are independent enough to care.
-Roxanne Gay, Bad Feminist

This is one confession in a list at the end of Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay. It made me laugh, the part about turning up the radio to cover up the sound. It also made me nod in agreement, the part about not caring, and yet wondering if I should (to be an independent woman, i.e. a good feminist).

And that's probably a good way to sum up the book. There was some laughing, some nodding. In the middle there was some skimming because I got a little impatient with some of the essays. (And, I'd chalk that up to an editing choice. Some of these sections felt like a bunch of blog posts plopped there, instead of a more thoughtfully edited collection of essays - some previous writing that was expanded or combined or re-written.) In the middle of said essays, I also started to wonder if the author had anything positive to say. Where was the joy or the positivity? It was just critique of one bad movie after another (the section was on culture, gender and race). But then I felt caught - maybe it's because there's not much joy to be found, not much positive to say when it comes to how African Americans and other minorities are represented in film. Ok, keep reading...  

What I appreciated most in this book was the author's flavor of vulnerability. She wasn't confessional, but she did reveal a lot about what makes her human. That made her critique more credible. She's telling us that she's not a perfect feminist, that she's nuanced and complex and that she fails. So when she calls out others for ways they, too, have failed their art or their brothers and sisters, I can swallow it. We can be imperfect, yes. And, let's all try to be better. Yes.

(photo: coffee, reading, of course)

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